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Gone, But In No Need of Sympathy
on 13 January 2004
I can only agree with the other reviews of this album, in that it was the zenith of the Commotions all too brief collaboration. Where "Rattlesnakes" in particular was smart and full of attitude, "Mainstream" is markeldy different, with Lloyd seemingly more introspective, and less sure of his footing.
Not that this is a negative - the result is moments of rare beauty ("Jennifer She Said") which lends more to a more unadorned honesty than his previous works, where an overeagerness to impress was always just beneath the surface and coupled the emotion being expressed. "Mainstream's" more delicate moments seem to point as to perhaps why this was the case, "From the Hip" being a case in point, rather than betraying the effect.
"My Bag" and "Sean Penn Blues" were also musical departures for a band who by now had shed off the jingle jangle favoured by Orange Juice etc to produce a more complete accompanient for more sombre moods, but also able to funk up their sound and give it an altogether different feel. My own favourite is "29", a fabulous lyric concerning what Nick Cave detailed as "being Love's lover", the propensity for love in full knowledge of the pain of its loss, which for some is the bravest thing we do - come back for more when we've been so hurt.
In their career together, Lloyd and The Commotions summed up what was so wrong about much of UK music journalism in the 80's - a bunch of frustrated musos unable to deal with the fact that a bunch of guys up there doing it were brighter, wordier and more emotionally fragile than them. The result was that admiration gave way to envy, support became mockery and gifted bands like this packed up before they should have, although they've all lead interesting (and hopefully as rewarding) lives. They should look back with great satisfaction at what they achieved, for it's still great 17 years later, and up there with Love in my view. Buy it now!